Longhorns Looking to Improve in 2016

Jerrod Heard will probably be named the starter for the home opener, but he knows that Shane Buechele will be ready as well. Photo Courtesy: Dominic Ceraldi
Jerrod Heard will probably be named the starter for the home opener, but he knows that Shane Buechele will be ready as well. Photo Courtesy: Dominic Ceraldi

By Alex Al-Kazzaz

The Texas Longhorns are coming off an embarrassing 2015 season where they finished 5-7.

Charlie Strong is entering his third season in Austin. In his first two years, he’s 11-14 and 0-1 in bowl games. The time has come for him to improve.

2016 has been so far so good for the UT football program. They’ve hired a new offensive coordinator and they’ve had their best recruiting class since Strong arrived in Austin two years ago, and 13 starters are returning to the team.

“I’m really happy with the way we’ve worked this off-season,” he said. “Our team is coming together and guys are beginning to believe in one another.”

This off-season, there’s been serious competition for the starting role at the quarterback position between Jerrod Heard and Shane Buechele. Buechele, a four-star dual-threat prospect from Arlington is the favorite to win the job. We should expect a well-organized passing offense especially with the return of receivers John Burt and Armanti Foreman.

The running game, which ranked 17th in the nation last season, returns running backs D’Onta Foreman and Chris Warren III, both of which racked up a combined 1,151 yards and nine touchdowns last season, along with three offensive linemen.

Senior Offensive lineman Kent Perkins is impressed with Buechele.

“The biggest thing is he’s humble,” he said. “He has a big heart and he works hard.”

Overall, the Longhorns could have one of the best offenses in the NCAA this season.

The defense was an area of concern for the program to improve on. Seven defensive players are returning. Last year, the defense allowed an average of 400+ yards per game. However, there was a bright spot on the defense. Malik Jefferson. He registered 61 tackles, seven of which were tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks. This named him Freshman All-American. Texas.247sports.com has tabbed Jefferson as the preseason Big 12 defensive player of the year. The defense was able to recruit an elite group of defensive linemen. So the rebuilding of the defense seems to be making progress.

Defensive Coordinator Vance Bedford has a young defense with some experience. The defense will be challenged so they need to be ready.

The Longhorns will open the season against a top-10 Notre Dame team in Austin. This game will immediately indicate areas they improved in as well as current weaknesses. The Longhorns are predicted to go 7-5 this year with a bowl bid. Needless to say Bevo and Co. are in for a big challenge this season.